I Tried On Over 50 Pairs of High-Street Shoes—Here's What I Loved

Here at Who What Wear UK, we're all about delivering the latest and greatest shopping edits, as approved by our team. That's why we've created a new shopping column, The Joy of Shopping, which will see me, Joy Montgomery, heading to all your favourite stores to test out new-in pieces IRL. From summer dresses to the brands you might've forgotten about, prepare for changing room selfies aplenty. Is there something you'd like me to cover? Make sure to tweet or Instagram me your requests!

If there's one thing I learnt from films and TV as a child, it's that if you possess two X chromosomes, you're likely hard-wired to fawn over stilettos and coo at strappy sandals. You need only take a quick glance over the last century to see countless examples of famous women and their famous shoes, whether it's Carrie Bradshaw's Manolo Blahniks, Dorothy's ruby slippers, Cinderella's glass slippers, or—in the real world—Theresa May's leopard-print courts. The list goes on.

However, in reality, men can be equally as obsessive about a brogue or a trainer, and plenty of women never catch the shoe bug (me being one of them). But the fact remains that regardless of sex or style, people are fanatical about what they put on their feet. Shoe-based content continues to spike on our site, and I know at least three friends who confess to owning over 100 pairs. The addiction is clearly real, and I aim to give the people what they want.

Luckily, this year's shoe offering has been kind to those of us who can't stand a tottering heel or have limited patience for "form over function" designs. Flats have reigned supreme in 2019, with Velcro sandals, sneakers and ballet pumps topping the charts with their comfortable and trend-led appeal. The mid-heel has also replaced the stiletto, and cool girls are now packing away their 6-inchers in place of lower, and more subtle, block heels. Our feet have never been happier.

I'm a firm believer in the power of well-chosen affordable shoes, and I own multiple high-street pairs that have survived the seasons thanks to their timeless fit and sturdy construction. Contrary to popular opinion, price is not always a guarantee of longevity. So without further ado, I present you the 19 high-street shoes that I'm loving this season.

From loafers and square-toe slingbacks to block-heeled boots and chunky sandals, there's so much to love. Scroll down to see my picks.

TOPSHOP

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: I'm enjoying the mid-heel shoe trend that's spreading like wildfire on the high street this season. They allow any outfit to look instantly more polished, but without the high-maintenance fit of a stiletto. This Topshop pair is ideal for adding a hit of animal-print personality.

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: With autumn just around the corner, I'm starting to think about shoes that will work with my cold-weather staples (aka jeans, tights and tailored trousers). These Topshop loafers fit the bill with their comfortable fit and chain detail.

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: I bought a pair of snakeskin boots from Topshop last year and have worn them constantly. The new-season iterations are looking just as good and come with a generous—but not excessive—heel.

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: These are probably one of my favourite pairs of shoes from Topshop. They're subtler than some of the other heeled styles, and I love their square toes and soft suede finish. I can imagine wearing them with a floaty white dress on holiday. Maybe not one for a rainy day, though.

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: Square toes are everywhere this season, and if Topshop's new boot drop is anything to go by, they're sticking around for autumn. These black boots come in super-soft leather and feature a graphic heel, making them feel more premium.

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: It's fair to say that I've lived in my chunky sandals this summer, and I have no plans of shifting my allegiance. These caught my eye with their oversized buckle and minimalist fit. They're also quite wide, which is great for those that usually struggle with sandals. Oh, and they're super affordable too.

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Joy Montgomery

& OTHER STORIES

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: I'm a sucker for cowboy boots, but they have to be subtle, and these & Other Stories are great because they feature the classic patchwork detailing in a uniform black. It's a yes from me.

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: So & Other Stories is great for classic shoe styles like penny loafers. It's worth noting that they come in quite rigid leather, which is great for longevity but might take a little while to wear in.

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: Despite the overwhelming hype Vejas has garnered over the last year, I've never actually tried on a pair. I like how these toe the line between plimsolls and sporty trainers, meaning they'll be perfect for transitioning your summer dress into autumn.

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Joy Montgomery

MARKS AND SPENCER

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: Words cannot describe how comfortable these Marks and Spencer ballet pumps are. It honestly feels like you're wearing slippers. Not only that, but they also look so stylish with their clean-lined design and come fashion influencer–approved. I decided to buy them in black (just saying).

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: I never thought M&S would be a high-street brand to nail the hiking-boot trend, but these lace-ups have proven me wrong. They honestly look like the real deal (no mumsy details here), and to top it off, they are ridiculously comfortable. They're not currently available online, but you can shop a similar style below.

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: Okay, Marks and Spencer have officially won the high-street shoe battle. I don't think anyone would guess that these white lace-up boots were from the Old Faithful of the high street. I'm so into the intricate lacing and chic block heels.

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: There's been a definite '70s vibe underpinning M&S's new-season pieces, and these suede boots match the theme nicely. The heel is on the higher side, but the rest of the shoe is supportive enough to allow ease of movement. They're not currently available online, but you can shop a similar style below.

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: You really can't beat brogues for a bit of androgynous autumnal styling. This year's iterations predominantly feature a platform sole, which adds some interest and a little height. A patent finish will also be a godsend in those September downpours. 

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Joy Montgomery

ZARA

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: If you're an avid Who What Wear fan, you'll know that we're big fans of these pastel-coloured mules. The colour is on point, as is the square toe and low heel, but I'm not sure they're quite secure enough for speed-walking through London. Maybe one for a special occasion.

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: I am way out of my comfort zone with these gold kitten heels, but I'm enjoying the '80s vibes. They're just what a simple jeans-and-shirt pairing needs. An unexpected winner. 

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: I've seen quite a few Chanel copycats in my time, but this Zara pair is one of the best. I wouldn't have thought the deconstructed style would appeal to me, but I found them easier walk in thanks to the supportive the strap around the heel. 

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: Undoubtedly due to Gucci's cult slip-on shoes, backless loafers have become a bit of a fashion-girl staple. They might not be as practical as brogues, but I think they can look so cool with jeans or tailored trousers, for a laid-back weekend look.

Photo:

Joy Montgomery